There’s something to be said for perseverance, and for the Squalicum boys basketball team staying the course meant winning its first game of the season, a 59-55 battle with visiting Sedro-Woolley on Monday night, Dec. 13.
“We just stuck to our game plan, and we didn’t panic,” said Squalicum coach Tyler Hannigan, who could have been speaking about starting the season with a two-game losing streak or being behind by four at halftime on Monday.
By spreading the scoring around, hitting nine 3-pointers, and tightening up on defense, the Storm raised its record to 1-2 overall and 1-1 in Northwest Conference play.
“It felt great to do it in front of all our fans,” said senior Trevor Keeley, who led Squalicum with 14 points. “Now we want to keep rolling and get some more wins.”
The Squalicum fans were certainly into the game, which was the Storm’s home opener. But after scoring the first six points of the game, the Storm seemed out of it, quickly falling behind and staying behind the whole first half.
But the perseverance paid off in the third quarter. Keeley’s three-point play midway through the period gave the Storm its first lead since the opening minutes, a lead it would never relinquish. A 15-6 run to end the third gave Squalicum a 10-point cushion going into the final period.
Sedro-Woolley fell to 2-4 overall and 0-4 in league, but the Cubs have made every game close except for a blowout loss to Lynden Christian. And they didn’t go down easily Monday.
Behind senior Jerome Mathias, who had a game-high 22 points, the Cubs closed to within seven before a Keeley jumper with just under two minutes left pushed the margin back to 10 and sealed the win for Squalicum.
With leading scorer and all-Whatcom Hoops first-teamer Reed Richardson having an off-night with only 5 points and starting point guard Kaleb Hawkinson in foul trouble the entire game, the Storm needed a total team effort and got it.
Senior Kai Posey had a dozen points on four 3-pointers. And a pair of reserves — junior Xander Sledge and sophomore Peter Albert — took up the scoring slack.
Sledge had 10 points, including three 3-pointers, and the 6-foot-6 Albert was a force inside with 8 points, all in the second half. Except for a minute or two against Lynden Christian, it was Albert’s first real taste of varsity playing time. In fact, he wasn’t even listed on the varsity roster.
“He will be now,” said Posey.
For the Storm, the victory was a confidence builder, especially for the veterans who had to endure a season without playoffs last year.
“It’s cool to know we’ll be fighting for the playoffs and these games have an impact,” said Posey. “We want to carry that confidence through the season.”
Hannigan was excited for the possibilities knowing that all of the Class 2A schools in the NWC automatically qualify for the district tournament with a chance at reaching the state tournament.
“It’s going to come down to how you’re playing at the end of the year,” said Hannigan. “We just have to keep improving. And we did that tonight.”
The Storm host Mount Baker in another NWC contest on Thursday. Sedro-Woolley is off until Saturday when the Cubs travel to Oak Harbor.